BEFORE: What is formative assessment?


BEFORE (4).jpg

What is formative assessment and what’s it for?

Formative assessment is a type of assessment that examines what a student knows and can do as they progress through a programme or unit of study.

Formative assessment can include diagnostic testing. It can also include a range of informal or formal assessments depending on who the learners are and what the context is for training.

The purpose of formative assessment is so that you can modify your teaching and learning activities to improve your students’ learning and achievements.

A lot of what happens in your classroom or training environment is often informal formative assessment. This could even be something that you’re not fully aware of.

For example, it’s probably the case that your students are continually giving you all kinds of feedback about your teaching and what they are learning. Consciously or not, you use this information to make decisions about what the next steps are for your learners.

In a nutshell, formative assessment:

  • Helps us find out what someone knows and can do, including learning gaps, as they progress through a unit of study.
  • Informs our teaching and guides learning.
  • Happens during the programme or course of study.

The TEC Assessment tool can be used for formative assessment

Earlier, we used the TEC assessment tool as an example of a diagnostic assessment. But you can also use the LNAAT for formative assessment if you use it part way through a student’s course of study.

This kind of assessment would be relevant and appropriate for learners in longer courses where there is a requirement to show learner progress in literacy and numeracy over time.

What about trades, vocational training and ESOL?

One problem is that sometimes you can’t (or shouldn’t) use the TEC Assessment Tool for formative assessment with shorter courses or with shorter chunks of trades, vocational training and ESOL. So what’s the answer?

A good solution is to design and use your own contextualised assessments. We’ll talk about these in more detail on another page. But again, just a heads up:

  • you’re going to have a go at writing and using some contextualised assessments as part of your assessment work for this qualification as well.

Once you’ve created your own assessments you can use them for formative assessment, but you can also use them as short pre-assessments for before a unit of learning, and afterwards as summative assessments.

Like we mentioned earlier. You can use a single assessment for multiple purposes. This applies to the TEC assessment tool. But it also applies to your own assessments if you design them right.

More on summative assessment next.

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